SPEAKERS

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In 2016, Eloise Gómez Reyes was sworn in as a California State Assemblymember for the 47th Assembly District. She is the Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee and also serves on the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, Budget Committee, Judiciary Committee, Utilities and Energy Committee and Legislative Ethics Committee.

Upon being sworn in to her first term, Eloise was named Co-Chair to the Legislative Ethics Committee. In the second year of her first term, she was appointed Assistant Majority Whip - a leadership position that ensures that legislative floor session operates efficiently.

In 2018, in response to growing concerns regarding the workplace culture in the Legislature, Eloise was appointed to the Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response which produced recommendations to improve workplace protections for Legislative employees and others that interact with the Legislature, through the creation of the independent oversight entity, the Workplace Conduct Unit created to investigate and make recommendations on workplace harassment claims.

Assembly Majority Leader

Eloise Gomez Reyes

CA Assembly District 47

Panelist | April 26

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California State Assembly, District 51

Special Remarks | April 26

Wendy Carrillo has spent her career advocating for educational opportunity, access to quality healthcare, living wage jobs, and social justice. An award-winning journalist, Wendy had a distinguished career as a radio and digital host, writer and producer. For 10 years, she was host and executive producer of “Knowledge is Power,” a community-based radio program on Los Angeles Power 106fm, where topics ranging from access to higher education and ending the school-to-prison pipeline to environmental justice and political transparency were discussed with elected officials, community leaders and stakeholders.

 

Wendy previously served as part of the communications team that supported organizing efforts for long term care workers at SEIU ULTCW (now part of SEIU Local 2015). Her work included fighting for fair wages for caregivers who provide seniors and people with disabilities the dignity to stay in their homes, as well as better working conditions and staffing ratios for nursing home workers. During her tenure at SEIU ULTCW, Wendy had the privilege of working at the local and state levels on behalf of caregivers for healthcare for all, wage increases, immigration reform and protecting families during the foreclosure crisis. Wendy came to this country as an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador when she was a young child. Her parents taught her to work hard and to be committed to the community that helped raise her. She became a U.S. citizen in her early 20s. Wendy grew up in Boyle Heights and City Terrace and is a proud graduate of local public schools including Harrison Elementary, El Sereno Middle School and Roosevelt High. She is a graduate of East Los Angeles College and Cal State Los Angeles, where she earned her BA and an alumnus of USC, where she earned her Master’s Degree.

Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo

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Sonja Diaz

Founding Director, UCLA Latino Policy & Politics

Panelist | April 26

Sonja Diaz is the Founding Executive Director of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, a comprehensive think tank that addresses the most critical domestic policy challenges facing communities of color in states and localities across the U.S. Diaz served as policy counsel to Vice President Kamala D. Harris during her first and second terms as California Attorney General and directed voter protection programs for Democratic candidates in Virginia during the 2016 election.

 

Diaz has also managed domestic policy portfolios at three California nonprofits, clerked in the White House’s Domestic Policy Council under President Barack Obama, and supported litigation efforts at MALDEF, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and California’s Bureau of Children’s Justice. Diaz received her J.D. from UC Berkeley’s School of Law, holds a M.P.P. from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, and a B.A. in politics from UC Santa Cruz.

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Dee Dee Myers

Sr. Advisor & Director, The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development

Panelist | April 26

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Dinorah Perez is a News Reporter for Noticiero Telemundo 52. Telemundo 52 is Telemundo’s West Coast Flagship television station, delivering nearly 30 hours of local news and programming each week, more than any other Spanish-language station in Southern California, including breaking news coverage, up-to-the-minute weather forecasts, and entertainment.

 

Prior to joining Telemundo 52 in 2003, Perez was a reporter for the television program Extra Jóvenes and the host of Edición Impacto which aired on Chilevision in her native country of Chile.

 

Perez is the recipient of The John Swett Journalism Award from the California Teachers Association and in 2018 was recognized as one of the most Influential Latina Journalists of Los Angeles by the CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California.

 

She earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences and Journalism from the Universidad Gabriela Mistral in Santiago, Chile.

Dinorah Perez

News Reporter, Telemundo 52 

Moderator | April 26

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Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez represents close to a half million residents in District 2. This district includes the area of Central, East and South San Jose. She was sworn into office in August 2013 following a special election and has been re-elected twice to full terms.
 

Among her many duties, Supervisor Chavez chairs the Board's Children, Families and Seniors Committee and serves on the Finance and Government Operations Committee. She also serves as Chair of the $400 million Valley Transportation Authority board (VTA) and is a member of the CalTrain Board of Directors, playing a leadership role in the electrification of Caltrain and planning for high- speed rail. She is also vice chair of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District where she serves as the first chair of the Technology Implementation Office Steering Committee.

Supervisor Cindy Chavez 

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, District 2

Panelist | April 26

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Henry Perea

Manager, West Coast Region, State Government Affairs, Chevron

Sponsor Remarks | April 26

Henry T Perea is Manager, West Coast Region, State Government Affairs for Chevron Corporation. Chevron is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies and the largest company in California by revenue.
Henry directs the west coast region team that advocates on energy policy issues with key stakeholders.


Henry joined Chevron in April 2018 from WSPA where he served as Senior Vice President, Policy and Strategic Affairs. In this capacity, Henry was responsible for managing and leading WSPA’s state government affairs operation (legislative and regulatory) in California and driving the execution of the organization’s advocacy priorities.
Henry served as Senior Director of state advocacy for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America responsible for Arizona, Nevada and California. In 2016, he played a key role in the defeat of Proposition 61 and several local and state measures that would have slowed innovation.
 

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Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond

Special Remarks | April 27

Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University and founding president of the Learning Policy Institute, created to provide high-quality research for policies that enable equitable and empowering education for each and every child.

 

She is past president of the American Educational Research Association and author of more than 30 books and 600 other publications on educational quality and equity, including the award-winning book: The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity will Determine our Future. In 2006, she was named one of the nation’s ten most influential people affecting educational policy. She led the Obama education policy transition team in 2008 and the Biden education transition team in 2020. She was appointed President of the California State Board of Education in 2019.

President, California State Board of Education

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Lena Gonzalez

California State Senator

Special Remarks | April 27

Senator Lena A. Gonzalez was first elected to the State Senate to represent the 33rd District in a special election in June of 2019 and was subsequently re-elected in the November 3, 2020 general election for her first full 4-year term. As State Senator, she represents nearly 1 million residents in Southeast Los Angeles, Signal Hill, portions of South Los Angeles and Lakewood, and her hometown of Long Beach.

 

In the Senate, Senator Gonzalez is a strong voice for working families, advocating to improve working conditions and lifting up the voices of all workers. She prioritizes and fights for a clean environment, digital inclusion, LGBTQ+ and women’s rights and the economic vitality of small businesses among other policy areas. She currently is a member of the Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response, Energy, Utilities and Communications, Environmental Quality, Judiciary and Health committees. In addition, she was recently appointed as the new Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, becoming the first Latina(o) to ever serve in this capacity and the only woman to serve in the last 20 years.

Connie Leyva

Connie Leyva

California State Senator

Special Remarks | April 27

Reelected to represent the 20th State Senate District in 2018, Senator Connie M. Leyva is serving her second term in the California State Senate. The district includes the cities and communities of Bloomington, Chino, Colton, Fontana, Grand Terrace, Montclair, Muscoy, Ontario, Pomona, Rialto and San Bernardino.


As our State Senator, Senator Leyva is committed to improving California’s schools, environment and communities, as well as creating quality jobs throughout the 20th State Senate District and California. She firmly believes that California families benefit most when we invest in and help strengthen small businesses and other job drivers that create good paying jobs in our local communities.

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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond is responsible for the largest public school system in the nation, with more than 6.3 million students and over 10,000 schools.  Since taking office earlier this year, State Superintendent Thurmond has made improving equity, access, and opportunity for California’s public school students his top priority. He has created initiatives that are focused on closing the achievement gap for our state’s most vulnerable students and is dedicated to supporting educators in delivering an equitable education to all students.

During his 4-year tenure in the Assembly, Thurmond authored legislation that successfully expanded the free lunch program, bilingual education, and the Chafee Grant college scholarship program for foster youth. Additionally, Thurmond’s legislation guaranteed preferential voting rights for student school board members, improved access to families for early education and childcare, and shifted millions of dollars directly from prisons to schools. State Superintendent Thurmond is a social worker, educator, advocate, and public school parent who continues to work tirelessly on behalf of all student to ensure they reach their full academic potential.

Tony Thurmond

California State Superintendent of Pubic Instruction

Panelist | April 27

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Max Espinoza

Sr. Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 

Moderator | April 27

Max Espinoza is a senior program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he focuses on building the political and public will for education reforms that close opportunity and equity gaps in states across the United States. Max currently leads the foundation’s policy and advocacy efforts in the state of California.

 

Before joining the Gates Foundation, Max was Senior Vice President of Education Programs & Policy at Scholarship America. Max began his professional career in California’s state capital spending 14 years in key policy making and leadership roles, including serving as a senior advisor to legislative leadership and as an executive leader at the California Student Aid Commission. A first-generation college graduate from a working-class immigrant family, Max holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA.

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Sandra Magaña Cuellar

Sr. Manager of Government Affairs - SoCal, Charter Communications

Special Remarks | April 27

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Cynthia V. Guerrero brings the highest caliber of expertise with unmatched advocacy experience specifically relating to the technology sector. She is widely recognized for her work in advising companies on corporate strategy, regulatory risk and policy working collaboratively with them to achieve goals and overcome any crisis.

Over the years, Cynthia has strengthened her working relationships with the California Congressional Delegation and often advocates on behalf of client interests in Washington, D.C. This same level of service is demonstrated for her clients looking for legislative solutions on the state and local level.

She works tirelessly in Silicon Valley advising world-renowned companies on how to navigate the state and federal government legislative and regulatory process which often trails innovation. Additionally, Cynthia provides valuable strategic counsel for tech start-up companies looking to compete in California’s competitive technology sector.

Cynthia V. Guerrero

Partner, California Strategies, LLC.

Panelist | April 28

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Morning News Anchor, Telemundo 52

Sandra O’Neill is the News Anchor for Telemundo 52’s award-winning weekday morning newscasts, Noticiero Telemundo 52 a las 5 a.m. y 6 a.m.  Telemundo 52 is Telemundo’s West Coast Flagship television station, delivering nearly 30 hours of local news and programming each week, more than any other Spanish-language station in Southern California, including breaking news coverage, up-to-the-minute weather forecasts, and entertainment.

 

O’Neill is a seasoned journalist with nearly two decades of storytelling experience covering issues and significant events impacting the community.  For journalistic work, she has earned notable recognitions from the Radio & Television News Association, an Edward R. Murrow award and three Emmy awards for her coverage of the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2015 San Bernardino massacre.

Sandra O' Neill

Moderator | April 28

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Supervisor Nora Vargas

Vice-Chair, San Diego County Board of Supervisors, District 1

Special Remarks | April 28

On November 3, 2020, Supervisor Nora Vargas was elected to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, representing District 1. Supervisor Vargas was sworn in on January 4, 2021, and elected Vice-Chairwoman of the Board.

 

Supervisor Vargas’ priorities include mitigating the impacts of the pandemic and focusing on economic recovery, while ensuring equity and inclusivity. Prior to her election to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Vargas was as an elected member and President of the Southwestern College Governing Board, the only public institution of higher education within San Diego’s South County.

 

Supervisor Vargas served on the Board of Southwestern since her appointment in 2013 and was elected twice to the position. Supervisor Vargas also served as the Vice President of Community and Government Relations at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, where she worked to increase access to safe, quality healthcare, and education for women and families across California.

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Celinda M. Vazquez

Commissioner, California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls

Panelist | April 28

A proud daughter of Puerto Rican parents, Celinda Vázquez was born in New York City and moved to Inglewood, California with her family as a child.  Celinda became aware of injustices and inequities in her community very early in her life and began advocating for change at a young age.  Since then, she has committed her career to advance social justice.  Celinda is an accomplished Public / External Affairs leader with an extensive background in community engagement / organizing, government affairs, advocacy, public policy and communications.  She currently serves as the Chief External Affairs Officer for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles.

 

Celinda is a Commissioner for the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.  She has her Bachelor’s Degree from San Diego State University (SDSU) where she double majored in Social Work and Chicana/o Studies.

 

Celinda is raising two young activist children alongside her husband, fellow SDSU alum, George.

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Manager of Public Policy, Amazon

Brenda M. Palomino is Manager of Public Policy for Amazon in California. In this role, she oversees state-wide legislative issues in policy areas such as; labor, physical retail & online marketplace, energy, transportation, environmental and climate change. Prior to Amazon, Brenda spent years representing the telecommunications industry where she worked on key issues such as wireless infrastructure and expansion of broadband access. Brenda began her legislative career representing several state-wide trade associations, including CA Restaurant Association, CA Chamber of Commerce, and the CA Association of Winegrape Growers.

 

Through Amazon, Brenda is a proud member of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials as well as the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. She also serves on the Board of the CA Retailers Association. Brenda has a degree in political science and a master’s degree in public policy and administration. A California native, and enthusiast for all things outdoors, Brenda resides in Roseville with her two daughters.

Brenda M. Palomino

Sponsor Remarks | April 28

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CA Assembly District 81

Special Remarks | April 28

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez represents California’s 80th Assembly District covering Southern San Diego County, and is Chairwoman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. In 2014, she authored historic legislation allowing 6.5 million Californians to earn paid sick leave, making California the first state to guarantee earned sick days for every private sector worker. 

 

Assemblywoman Gonzalez also passed legislation prohibiting HOAs from fining homeowners for replacing grass lawns with drought resistant landscaping, strengthening consumer protection for insurance products, creating the nation’s first workplace bullying training requirement, and helping San Diego special elections cost less and engage more voters.  The daughter of an immigrant farmworker and a nurse, she previously served as the first woman and first person of color to be elected CEO and Secretary-Treasurer for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council.  Nonetheless, Lorena's most cherished title is mother. Her daughter, Tierra, studies Journalism at New York University and her son, Antonio, attends middle school in San Diego.

Assemblywoman

Lorena Gonzalez

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Sophia Garcia 

GIS & Outreach Director, Redistricting Partners

Panelist | April 28

GIS and Outreach Director for Redistricting Partners and lead presenter on civic engagement in local redistricting. Garcia is an experienced GIS Analyst with a proven track record of interpreting political and geographical data to empower communities. She most recently worked for the Dolores Huerta Foundation, where she used GIS data and organizing as tools to impact local redistricting.

 

Garcia is a nationally recognized leader in using GIS for Equity and Social Justice and serves as the Co Vice Chair of URISAs Pro Equity Anti-Racist Committee.